SC notice to Kerala govt on petition challenging law banning animal sacrifice

SC notice to Kerala govt on petition challenging law banning animal sacrifice

File photo of Supreme Court.

Satya Prakash
Tribune News Service
New Delhi, July 16

The Supreme Court on Thursday issued notice to Kerala Government on a petition challenging the constitutional validity of the Kerala Animals and Bird Sacrifices (Prohibition) Act, 1968, which prohibits sacrifice of animals and birds in temples.

“There seems to be a dichotomy. Killing animals and consuming it is allowed. But killing animals, offering it to a deity and then consuming it is not allowed,” a Bench headed by CJI SA Bobde said.

This is the second petition on the issue that has landed in the Supreme Court which is already seized of a similar case involving prohibition on animal sacrifice for religious purpose in Tripura.

Petitioners PE Gopalakrishnan alias Acharya Thrypuram, Amulraj K.K Raji V and  Babu N.K have challenged the June 16 order of the Kerala High Court dismissing a challenge to the Act.

Acharya contended that he belonged to a family that has been traditionally following Shakti worship and he himself was involved in teaching and propagation of Shakti worship practices of which animal sacrifice was an inalterable part. 

Other petitioners are also Shakti worshippers who said due to incomplete performance of ‘bali’ (sacrifice) in view of the restrictions imposed by the impugned Act, they reasonably apprehended the wrath of their family deity.  

The Kerala Animals and Bird Sacrifices Prohibition Act, 1968, prohibits propitiation of deity through sacrifice of animals and birds in temples and temple precincts. 

Interestingly, killing or maiming of animals for propitiating any deity alone is the core consideration for the ban under the Act. 

However, if the sacrifice is not for propitiating any deity, but for personal consumption even in temple premises, is not prohibited, the petitioners pointed out.

Terming the law as manifestly arbitrary, the petitioners urged the top court to strike down the law under challenge as it violated their right to equality.

They said the exclusion of identical practices by other religious communities, without the same being founded on any intelligible differentia justifying the classification made by the impugned legislation; and  criminalisation of animal or bird sacrifice for the purpose of propitiation of deity, while excluding  animal or bird  sacrifice for all other purposes, such as personal consumption even in or in the precincts of  temple premises went against Article 14 of the Constitution.

If the object of the law were to ensure preservation and protection of animals, it would demand its uniform application across all religious communities, they submitted.

The petitioners are also aggrieved by the fact that the High Court did not consider their impleadment application and went on to pronounce its verdict.

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